Sunday, September 6, 2015

The Beginning: Meeting the Family

Friday: Day Zero

     Two days ago, I had my orientation in Rome was very anticlimactic. After arrival, we were put into our rooms, at dinner, sang some songs, then attended the opening ceremony. I think that it was good, but I was also very sleepy during that time due to my near-nineteen hours of travel. The flight from NYC to Zürich was flawless, but after the five-hour layover, we boarded the plane to Rome. This flight was good until there happened to be a storm in Rome. Therefore, we weren't able to land and were forced to make circles in the sky for around sixty minutes. Once the sky cleared, we landed and were stopped in front of the terminal. As everyone is beginning to get up, the pilot announces, "Okay.. um ladies and gentlemen, we do not have anyone to bring us the stairs." After about a thirty minute wait, the guys come to bring the stairs, but the bus isn't there. You can guess what happened next. Anyway, it took a long time to do anything once we arrived in Rome.

Saturday: Day 1

     Yesterday, we woke up and almost immediately had to leave. Leaving in groups every thirty minutes according to location within Italy, we split up. I left at about 10:30 and arrived at the station in Rome at around 11:50. I met a really wonderful person named Maria, who is the only exchange student in Italy from Spain. I also talked with Samantha a lot on the bus ride over and on the train. We both are in love with Sour Patch.. go figure. On the train bound for Genoa, nobody really talked all to much; all of us being anxious to meet out family, but nervous at the same time.

     After about three hours, we arrived in Pisa. Before I had time to prepare and be nervous, I was immediately kissed on both cheeks by Domi, my liaison and my host father, Paolo. Alessandro, Pietro, Giulio, and Giulia were all there to greet me. It was an instantaneous relief, I would not have to be nervous anymore about first meetings. Instead of walking home from the airport, we drove about one kilometer because it was very hot. Let me tell you, drivers in Italy are CRAZY; I like it, I like it a lot. Paolo is a fantastic driver swerving in-and-out of the other lane, almost drifting around the roundabouts and doing it with a manual mini-van-esque vehicle. Once home, Paolo e Pietro gave me a small tour of the house.

     In this house, they take off their shoes at the door like in Japan, but socks and slippers aren't required, nor are they worn. It's perfect! There are two bathrooms, and they call them bano bianco (white bathroom) and bano giallo (yellow bathroom). After the tour around the house, Pietro helped me unpack and get situated in his our room. There was so much space for me to put clothes, I was confused! I had always heard that Italians had lived in very small spaces, ma è molto grande! After we unpacked, Paolo e Giulia took a siesta and my brothers and I played Mario Party on the Wii together, on teams. Having never played it before, and having it explained in Italian made the fact that I was an exchange student set in.

     When Pietro and I were about to win, it was time for dinner. We all went over to the table and sat down. It was extremely different from a dinner in the United States. There were two plates, and three or four separate dishes. First we ate Spaghetti con Pomodoro which was delicious, and then ate salad, plums, and had bread alongside it all. It might just be my family, but they clean their plates with the bread as they go along the meal, making it clear for the next dish. I ate so little and they wanted me to have more, but I was filled to the brim. After dinner, I took my own siesta while Alessandro watched TV and Pietro left to go practice his guitar. I was invited to a concert by Alessandro, and we rode our biked a few kilometers to the other side of Pisa. There, Alessandro and I walked and attempted to make conversation with my broken Italian, and his somewhat good English. After about thirty minutes, Alessandro's friends showed up. I can't remember any of their names besides Giacomo and Maria. Giacomo could speak English really well after only a year of studying it, so I ended up talking a lot in English with him. I guess it wasn't good that I did that, but that was just for yesterday.. it's not going to happen again! We returned to the venue site and joined in the concert. It was so loud. I'd never been to a rock concert before then, and it was different. I really liked some of the songs that they sang, especially the one called "va fanculo", which literally means "fuck you". Aside from the title, it was a really catchy song, and actually had very good instrumentals. In the middle of the concert, song people started to ram into each other and fall that normal?

     Following the concert, we all rode around the streets on our bikes and went to the Piazza del Pozzetto to get some gelato. OH MY GOD. This was the most delicious thing I had ever had. It was real gelato in real Italy! We went our separate ways afterward and soon after we got home, I went to sleep.

Piazza del Pozzetto

Sunday: Day 2

     I got to sleep in until 10:00 this morning, which was wonderful. When I awoke, I had breakfast prepared for me by Giulia, and had about thirty minutes until we would leave for church. Alessandro had something to do today, and Pietro doesn't go anymore, so it'd be just Giulio and I. Before I showered, I sat down in their breakfast room and was offered so many options that I wasn't sure what to do. In the United States, I never ate breakfast since I always woke up so early. I asked for just some milk and coffee, and was fine. It was probably the best I'd ever had.

     We went to church after I got out of the shower, and I witnessed my first ever baptism. There were two going on at once. It added about an extra half-hour to the mass, but it was not bad at all. In comparison to the four-hour long mass in Yamaguchi-shin, I was relieved. I didn't mess up anywhere, and I was able to read some of the songs. We return home afterward and I studied until lunch. Pietro was sitting alongside me while I was doing some Italian and he really helped out. We went to eat lunch—another four course meal—and spend about an hour doing so. I return to studying my Italian until about three, when all of us, besides Alessandro go to their grandparent's house. Little did I know it would be a Tuscan Villa. It was huge!

     I met Giulia's parents and they wanted to speak in English with me, to see how good they were. Everyone in the family wanted to meet me, it was pretty refreshing. We were not allowed to eat until 5:00 because of digestion, Paolo said. Apparently, the Italians believe that you should not do anything after eating in order to properly digest. So, instead we played Dubito. In the United States, this game is known as BS, or Bullshit. I ended up losing, but it passed the time and then we went to swim, and then we followed with a soccer game. We did some one-versus-ones and I beat both Pietro and Giulio! Then again, they don't play soccer. Most Italians are good at soccer—this is true.

     We come home and eat dinner almost immediately, and that brings me to now.. writing this down before I go to sleep. I get to listen to Pietro play his guitar while I am writing, and it is really cool. I actually feel like an exchange student now, but I already feel like a part of the family. I will update you guys next week, and the following week is when I begin school. Ciao! Arrivederci! Buona notte!

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